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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/236

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By Professor HENRY A. MIERS, D.Sc, F.R.S.,


MY visit to Klondike took place at the end of August, 1901, at a very interesting time, and under most favorable conditions. The journey was made at the invitation of the Hon. Clifford Sifton, Canadian Minister of the Interior, and in company with Professor Coleman, of Toronto. Mr. Sifton provided us with a most efficient military escort in the person of Captain Strickland of the Northwest Mounted Police, who possesses an intimate knowledge of the far Northwestern Territory and its inhabitants. Consequently, we were able in a short visit to see a great deal and to become acquainted with the leading features of the mining industry.

The time was particularly interesting, because in 1901 the conditions of life were still to a large extent those of a young mining camp, but were undergoing rapid transformation into the social and political conditions of an organized and civilized community.

Access to Klondike is now practically confined to a single route available for the ordinary traveler. It is true that a considerable amount of merchandise is taken in by the sea and river route which consists of a voyage (from Seattle) of 2,700 miles by sea to St. Michaels at the mouth of the Yukon, followed by a voyage of 1,370 miles up that mighty river to Dawson City—a total of about 4,000 miles. But the ordinary passenger route is the following:—a sea voyage of 900 miles, up the quiet waters that lie between the islands and the mainland, from Vancouver to the little American port of Skagway; a journey of 112 miles across the coast range, by the newly constructed White Pass and Yukon railway, to the little town of White Horse on the Yukon; and a voyage of 450 miles down the Yukon from White Horse to Dawson City in a stern-wheel steamer—a journey of only 1,460 miles in all. By this route the sea voyage occupies from three to five days, the railway journey about twelve hours, and the river voyage from two to three days.

The railway climbs the icy precipices of the coast range, and crosses into Canadian territory at the summit of the famous White Pass which earned so unenviable a reputation as the scene of disasters and deaths during the great rush into the country in the winter of

  1. Read before the Royal Institution of Great Britain, on February 28, 1902.